Bowen - Top of the Whitsundays

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Bowen - your four day family getaway!

Bowen offers families the perfect getaway, combining true relaxation with coastal adventures that will keep you wanting more. The whole family will be thrilled with the diversity of activities and fun-filled discoveries waiting around every corner.

Day 1 Arrive in Bowen and meet the ‘locals’

Bowen is a short 45-minute drive from Airlie Beach or Proserpine, an easy trip through cane fields and rainforest-topped mountains. Arriving mid-morning will ensure you get the most out of your first day.

As you reach the Southern side of Bowen keep your eyes open, you might spot a rather large mango! Bowen’s Big Mango was famously stolen in 2014, a hoax that had the entire world guessing where it might have ended up. When you hop out of the car for your very own selfie with the Big Mango make sure you cast a glance to the North. Across the glittering water and seagrass flats you’ll catch your first glimpse of Bowen.

 big mango

Next, head into the Big Mango Visitor Information Centre for a delicious Bowen mango sorbet. Containing just blended mango and available year-round, this treat will have you dreaming of summer days at the beach. While there, have a chat with one of our friendly volunteers and pick up a Bowen Visitor Guide. The map in the centrefold will be a handy companion over the next four days.

Getting hungry? It’s time to try the freshest seafood on the East Coast. Head down Bowen’s main street and once you arrive at the Front Beach, turn left towards Bowen Harbour. On Henry Darwen Drive, you’ll find fresh seafood outlets where the prawns, crabs, fish and bugs are unloaded from boats daily. At Birds Fish Bar you can order a cooked or fresh seafood lunch and enjoy the views over the harbour as you tuck in.

seafood

Bowen has several types of accommodation suitable for families. From luxury apartments to caravan parks with cabins or camping options, there’s something for every taste and budget. For all the options and availability you can browse the stay section on our website, or give our team a call on (07) 4786 4222. Once you’ve settled in, it’s time to meet the ‘locals’!

Grab your swimmers and a snorkel and make your way to Horseshoe Bay. This protected bay is framed by granite outcrops above and a spectacular fringing reef beneath. To dive into this underwater world, start by swimming along the left edge of the bay. Within minutes you’ll be greeted by a stunning array of corals and fish. Keep an eye out for coral trout, tiny nudibranchs and soft corals that seem to dance in the currents. As you make your way across the middle of the bay, to the right side, look for Bywa, the underwater sculpture. Bywa means ‘waterspout’ and symbolises the story that waterspouts are the vessels that carry marine animals into the heavens for the spirits and ancestors to feed on. Today, many local sea creatures have made the sculpture home.

bowen snorkelling

Serious snorkelling definitely builds the appetite! For a dinner with a view, and room to run around, we suggest picking up some fish or meat and a salad, and enjoying a barbecue on the beach. As the sun sets over Queens Bay, you’ll be able to sink into a chair and start planning tomorrow’s adventures.

Bowen Sunset

 

Day 2 – Find a beach of your own

It’s time for an adventure! Today you will find a bush trail that reveals spectacular views and leads you to your very own spot in paradise.

If you’re an early riser and a lover of sunrises, we’d suggest driving over to Rose Bay to watch the water light up. Arriving at first light, you’ll be greeted with one of nature’s wonders as the sun peeks over the top of Gloucester Island. Don’t forget your camera!

rose bay sunrise

A hearty breakfast is a must before you hit the trail. We recommend enjoying a coffee with harbour views at Starboard Cafe, or heading to Horseshoe Bay for breakfast by the beach at The Café. Once everyone is satisfied it’s time to pack swimmers, towels, water and snorkels and pop on a pair of sneakers. Park your car at Horseshoe Bay and make your way onto the Cape Edgecumbe Walking Trail.

First stop on the trail is the Horseshoe Bay Lookout. Perched on a rock over Horseshoe Bay, this lookout offers sweeping vistas from the beach to the islands. Once you have soaked in the view, continue on the trail as it winds over the headland and down into Murrays Bay. As you emerge onto this secluded beach, take a deep breath, you’ve just landed in paradise! Mum and Dad can stretch out on the sand while the kids start exploring the rock pools around the bay. Excited to see some more coral? Murrays Bay offers beautiful fringing reef just off the shore.

horseshoe bay lookout

We’d understand if you wanted to stay at Murrays Bay all day… but it is definitely worth finishing the hike. Over the next hill is Mother Beddock lookout with equally stunning views. As the sea breeze cools you down, look below to Rose Bay, the final beach on your adventure. Snorkelling is on offer once more, or you can simply soak up the beach vibes and truly relax. If you’ve arrived in Bowen during winter keep your eyes on the horizon for the breach of a humpback whale.

From Rose Bay you can follow the road back to Horseshoe Bay or make your way back over Cape Edgecumbe. If a late lunch or early dinner is on the cards, Bowen has several pubs to choose from, all serving tasty local produce with our very own version of country hospitality. To prepare for tomorrow, we suggest watching the movie Australia. Filmed in Bowen, this epic starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman will throw a whole new light on the centre of town.

Day 3 – Explore Bowen’s rich history

Back in the 1860s, Bowen was destined to become the capital of the North. Today we’ll explore the town’s rich past and meet a local character with some amazing stories.

A lesson in Bowen’s history begins at the local museum. The friendly volunteers will guide you through this treasure trove, pointing out the first glass from the North Head Lighthouse, and explaining why our streets are so wide. Next, take your Bowen Visitor Guide and head into the CBD to follow the mural trail. Bowen’s unique history is told through 28 murals that adorn buildings through the town. While you’re heading down the main street, think back to the movie. In 2007, producer Baz Luhrmann lined the street with dirt and ran 100 long-horned cattle through the town!

When it’s time for lunch we suggest heading into the Grand View Hotel. You’ll find even more clues about Bowen’s past here, from the old photos around the bar to the original rail tracks leading through the pub garden. After lunch, wander down to the Front Beach. To the right of the ‘little mango’ you’ll find the Catalina Memorial, an interpretive display dedicated to the flying boats that were stationed in Bowen during World War 2. Then it’s time for a stroll along Bowen’s historic jetty. Make sure you pause at the end and take a look around, chances are a turtle will pop up to say hello, or you might catch a glimpse of the mermaid tail of a local dugong.

catalina display

As the day comes to an end, it’s time to discover the Summergarden Theatre. This art deco inspired cinema is one of Queensland’s oldest independent operations and has been run by owner Ben Deluca for more than 60 years. When the movie Australia was being filmed, Ben became great mates with Baz, Nicole and Hugh. Make sure you introduce yourself, Ben has some great stories to tell!

Day 4 – Discover the Heart of Agriculture

Did you know that during winter, Bowen is known as Australia’s salad bowl? The largest winter growing region in Australia, Bowen farmers proudly produce a diverse range of fruit and vegetables. During summer, you’ll find mangoes, quite literally, on every corner.

Your day begins at the Bowen Farmers Market. Operating on Sundays throughout the year, the markets offer a wide range of locally grown produce and plenty of tasty treats. Grab a coffee and enjoy the music as you stroll through the stalls and meet the locals. We’d suggest picking up some fresh fruit and salad supplies ready for a sunset picnic later in the day.

bowen markets

A drive around the outskirts of Bowen reveals just how large the horticulture industry is. Following the farm map in the Bowen Visitor Guide you’ll discover vast fields of tomatoes, corn, zucchini, beans, pumpkin, watermelon and much more. Bowen’s dry, warm winters create a natural greenhouse effect, producing some of the tastiest fresh produce you’ll find. As you travel keep an eye out for the mango orchards. The trees are hedged annually to promote growth, so you’ll see thousands of square shaped trees in neat lines around every corner.

mango orchard

Once your exploring is complete, and you’ve been able to identify every crop, it’s time to organise a picnic. As the sun drops you can head to Greys Bay for a Bowen tradition. Every afternoon locals and visitors alike gather on the sand with picnic rugs and wine glasses to toast the sunset. Uniquely positioned at the end of Queens Bay, the sun sets over the water and into the distant hinterland. It’s the perfect time to chat about your Bowen holiday and everything you’ll do when you return again soon.

grays bay

 

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